When Do PE Firms Raise Their Funds?

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Private equity firms are in the midst of a crazy time for fundraising. When we wrote about the trend earlier this summer, it involved extrapolating fundraising figures from the first half of 2017 to project what might happen over the full year.

Which got one of our readers thinking.

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"Would be interesting to know how accurate the assumption of doubling H1 has been over the last decade," wrote a commenter named Waleed.

We thought so, too. Is private equity fundraising split evenly between the first and second halves of the year, or do firms tend to either frontload or backload their calendars when it comes to raising new capital?

The answer: The doubling assumption holds up pretty well—although PE firms have a slight preference for raising capital between January and the end of June.

To find out more, we used the PitchBook Platform to collect fundraising data from the past dozen years. First, here's a look at the figures from the US, with the 1H% column representing the percentage of each year's fund closes that occurred between January 1 and June 30:

As you can see, the results can vary greatly on a year-by-year basis, but the overarching trend is for slightly more fundraising activity to occur during 1H. There's a fair bit of correlation between the percentage of vehicles raised in 1H and the percentage of capital raised, but not always; look to 2010, for instance, when nearly 60% of all new vehicles were closed during 1H, but those funds accounted for just 42% of the year's capital. A similar reversal of fortune occurred in 2006.

Another possible takeaway: In down years, activity tends to concentrate in 1H. In four of the five years with less than $100 billion in capital raised, an above-average rate of activity occurred in 1H, including the outlying 74% figure from 2005. The same rough trend applies to new vehicles closed, with frontloaded years in 2005, 2009 and 2010 serving as examples.

Perhaps there's something about a downturn in fundraising activity that tends to accelerate during 2H, or perhaps a slow first half of the year can in some ways act as a self-fulfilling prophecy during summer and fall.

For a broader view, here's a look at the same figures for fundraising activity from around the globe:

PE Firms

The trends are very much the same as in the US. Activity is more evenly dispersed throughout the calendar, but just barely. In both the US and globally, the amount of vehicles raised is more spread out than the amount of capital raised—but again, not by much. With a couple exceptions (2010 and 2016 jump out in terms of dollars), there's little variation in any single year between figures in the US and those from around the world.

So there you go, Waleed. We hope that answers your question.

Check out our previous coverage of PE's fundraising frenzy.

Article by Kevin Dowd, PitchBook

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